Boot Fitting General
Boot fitting takes time. Be prepared to spend well over an hour in the shop. Weekends and holidays can get very busy here in Mammoth. We are usually most busy from 2:30 to 6:30. If you can come in earlier, before 2pm we are usually not as busy. We stay open late, but if you come in an hour before closing we may not be able to complete the fit.
Some boot work is best done by appointment. Alignment evaluations, Instaprint footbeds, and custom liners are not performed by everyone in the shop, so call us to set up a time slot. Finding the right boot with the proper fit can be tedious and time consuming, but is well worth it. We look forward to seeing you and helping to maximize your ski experience.
Custom Boot Fitting Services
Most people are not going to be lucky enough to find a boot that fits perfectly out of the box. It seems like something could always use a little tweak to get it perfectly. A very common mistake is to buy a ski boot that is too large in size or volume because the correct boot seems too tight in one small area. This is especially common with anklebones and “sixth toes”. It may not seem obvious or intuitive, but it is much easier to gain room where needed, than to pad up a boot that is too big everywhere except for that one problem spot. Fortunately, ski boots are designed to be customized, as feet are like fingerprints; no two are exactly alike. For things such as bunions, “6th Toes”, big ankles or any abnormal bones, we can modify the shell where needed. This can take the form of shell stretching, grinding and/or cutting. Liners can also be stretched or modified, or even replaced with a new custom one.
A ski boot has two main functions, it must keep your feet dry and comfortable, and it also has to transmit energy from you to the ski. Most people are very aware of the first issue, as being warm and dry is pretty high on Maslow’s hierarchy. The second issue gets more complicated. An improperly aligned boot can make controlling your skis almost impossible. A well-balanced boot allows you to stand in a very neutral position where you can balance in the middle of the ski, and roll easily from edge to edge. A boot that is set up properly will make turning and absorbing effortless, and efficient.
Most skiers have heard of canting, and know it has something to do with standing with both skis flat on the snow. This is generally correct, as we want to be able to engage both corresponding edges just as easily on either foot in either turn. Many people who have a “weak side” turn most likely need to adjust their lateral canting. The most basic way to address this problem is by stabilizing the foot with a supportive foot bed, and then adjusting the upper cuff. If this does not solve the problem, other modifications like canting the sole of the boot may be required.
One of the most neglected parts of the boot balancing equation is fore/aft stance. This is can be a somewhat complicated concept, but it really has just two interrelated goals. First, we want to be able to stand tall at the start of the turn, and extend down the hill. Second, we need to absorb and extend from our ankle. The reasons for this are simple; bones are stronger than muscles, so the more we can use our skeletons, the stronger and more efficiently we can ski. Also, the ankle is the closest joint to the snow, and in a much better position to effectively absorb, extend, flex and extend. If your ankle is not working for you, your knees and hips must do more, and this will knock you out of balance, and tire you out very quickly. That sounds simple enough, but there are many skiers whose equipment is keeping them from doing both. Many boots out there, especially ones with lots of forward lean and ramp, push the lower leg dramatically forward into a pre-flexed position while the upper body leans back to compensate. Not a great position to ski from.
Other skiers will naturally stand too tall and lever the back of their boots as they ski. Sometimes this is the skier’s fault, and a change of technique is needed; but often the ski boot is the culprit, keeping the skier from functional stance. We address these fore/aft stance issues in several ways, including but not limited to: trying different boots, heel lifts, toe lifts (aka: “gas pedal”), under binding toe or heel lifts, tongue pads, spoilers and other “tricks of the trade”. We look at ramp angle (how high the heel of the boot is relative to the toe of the boot) and delta (the relative heights of heel and toe in the binding). We also look at the flex of the boot, and the forward lean (aka shaft angle) of the boot’s upper cuff. This is very important in people with limited or excessive flex in the ankle. Often, when good fore/aft balance is attained, lateral canting issues are minimized, so we like to address the fore/aft plane first.
We often add foam shims to boot liners in order to secure movement or relieve pressure points. The most common shims are medial/lateral ones that snug up the boot to reduce movement caused by excess volume. Tongue pads are also common, and can be used to relieve shin bang, increase heel hold, and snug up the upper cuff of the boot. Even properly sized new boots that fit well will often benefit from minor shimming. Shimming is included in the price when you buy a new boot from Kittredge Sports. We are happy to work on boots purchased elsewhere, for a fee.
It’s pretty rare that boots fit perfectly out of the box. A supportive footbed is the first step to a personalized fit. Our footbeds range from a $40 off the shelf Superfeet model to $190 for a full custom Instaprint. Instaprint footbeds are heated, and then molded in a partially weighted position. Instaprints are made of a medical grade thermoplastic, and are the most contouring custom insoles on the market. The Quick Bed is molded the same as an Instaprint but has less elaborate posting under the rear foot. Either one is a vast improvement over the placeholder inserts that come in new ski boots, and will provide much increased comfort and control. We will recommend an appropriate footbed, depending on your personal needs.
If you are in search of the best possible fit and performance, a custom liner may be the final puzzle piece. These after-market liners are molded to fit your feet in your ski boots. We carry two types of heat-mold-able custom liners, and can recommend the most appropriate for your fit and needs. We highly recommend using custom footbeds with custom liners. Intuition liners are made of various densities of thermo-mold-able closed cell foam, and are heated in our convection oven before being placed in the boot to be molded to your feet. Intuition makes a variety of liners, we like the Luxury Liner for its soft feel, warmth and overall